Featured Image: Creative Commons.
During this afternoon’s briefing, the Scottish Government has confirmed it is set to do a U-Turn on COVID restrictions currently imposed on mass spectator events, meaning they can return to full capacity from the 17th of January onwards.
Just four days before Christmas, Nicola Sturgeon announced that as of the 26th of December 2021, outdoor events would be limited to crowds of just 500 people to fight against the spread of the Omicron variant.
The decision forced the likes of the SFA and the SPFL to deploy an early Scottish Premiership winter break in the hope that fans would be back in football stadiums by the 17th of January, but Boxing Day fixtures still went ahead with an eerie 500 fans in these large arenas.
Celtic manager, Ange Postecoglou had this to say on the matter, as the Parkhead club were one of those who backed the early break:
“The break is coming at the right time because I do not like playing in empty stadiums, mate. I don’t know why people confuse the two. We didn’t want to keep playing not for any other reason than if anybody enjoyed today’s game then I’m sorry they are understanding a different football game than I do.
“I like supporters here, I don’t care if they are all away supporters, I think that is what the game is all about. I’m glad we have stopped it and there is no guarantee that they’ll be back in when the game resumes – but I hope they are. At least we’re giving them a chance, I don’t know why people want to dismiss the effect that supporters have on our game. Everyone wants to play in packed houses or we may as well play in our back yards.”
You can listen to the full interview below:
? "He wanted to give it a go today, we knew he was not 100 per cent…"
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) December 26, 2021
But here at The Clyde Insider, we took to social media to find out how people were taking the news that these restrictions have been ditched in this afternoon’s briefing.
One user said: “I think it was pointless. I feel we need to get on with things and not be in and out of constant lockdowns or certain rules to be told how to live our lives.”
Meanwhile, another user understood the thought process for the decision but ultimately thinks it became a waste of time:
“I think you can see the reasoning behind closing stadiums to relieve the pressure on emergency services because of big events, especially with the number of people having to isolate. However, I haven’t seen a big increase of cases in England due to sports and nightclubs staying open so I’d say in general there wasn’t any point in closing them.”
A report in The Times last night supports this user’s thoughts, with National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch, admitting that closing nightclubs and cancelling football fixtures have made little difference to Scotland’s COVID case numbers.
This comes just a number of weeks after Deputy First Minister, John Swinney branded the Scottish League Cup Final a ‘super-spreader’ event and expressed his regret having not limited 500 fans to that event.
One final user who contributed, made their point about the importance of football on fans lives, branding it a ‘way of life’:
“Football is a way of life for a lot of people and their return to stadiums should be heavily encouraged. A lot of measures were taken to reduce the infection rate, however, there is not enough evidence to suggest football games have been the cause of a major spread in stadiums since the return of fans in stadiums.
“We push mental health in this country and through football clubs. Especially Motherwell, they have a huge connection with their fans as seen in recent times with players and staff reaching out to fans in their time of need throughout the pandemic. Football is a real way of life to these people and an aid to their daily mental health struggles.”
It was also confirmed in the briefing that despite mass spectator events being given the green light, nightclubs and pubs will still be required to provide table service to customers.